Tag Archives: mental health

Liberal Democrats put mental health on the agenda in Holyrood and Cardiff

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleWe know that mental health has always been one of Nick Clegg’s top priorities. His first major speech as Liberal Democrat leader was on the subject. In the coalition, he, Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb have been pushing forward improvements to mental health care from making sure people in crisis see health professionals and not the inside of a Police cell, to a massive expansion of talking therapies to action to tackle the stigma that still exists.

A friend of mine has recently had some time off work for Depression. She wrote on Facebook, and asked people to share, the following:

What I do want to say is that until being off work for eight weeks with depression is regarded on equal footing with the same period of time off with a physical ailment of any kind ( from a hip replacement, to heart attack,stroke, badly broken limb, severe diabetes, or any of countless medical conditions ) then we will all suffer individually and as a society.

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Norman Lamb writes… Working together for better mental health crisis care

When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, it essential that they feel able to access the help they need – and quickly. They will probably be in a state of extreme distress and confusion. Without help, people may be at risk of causing harm to themselves and those around them (cases of injury to others are actually very rare). They often end up in police cells – completely inappropriately. They may even commit suicide – and all too often, I hear tragic cases of suicide after someone has repeatedly been unable to access mental …

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Nick Clegg: “Don’t put mentally ill kids in cell”

One of the many horrible injustices faced by people in the throes of a mental health crisis is that, rather than get the medical help they need, they’re locked up in a police cell.

Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg have been doing something to ensure that these people have better care. A new Crisis Care Concordat between Police, paramedics and health services should deliver important changes:

  • Health-based places of safety and beds are available 24/7 in case someone experiences a mental health crisis
  • Police custody should not be used because mental health services are not available and police vehicles should also not be

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#Timetotalk: Norman Lamb MP responds…

I have been really impressed by the moving personal contributions on Lib Dem Voice today setting people’s own experience of mental health. It reminded me powerfully why I am a Liberal Democrat.  As Holly Matthies wrote, tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

Time to talk dayMental health isn’t something that happens to other people.  1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their life – and everyone will know someone close to them who is affected.  And we …

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Opinion: Living and working with social anxiety disorder #timetotalk

Time to talk dayI have a severe social anxiety disorder.

There. I’ve said it. In seven words I have broken one of our last taboos: I’ve spoken of mental illness.

Today across England people are coming together to talk about mental illness and help overcome the stigma that many people still face in the twenty-first century. Time to Change are hoping to inspire one million conversations about mental health within 24 hours.

I’ve written and re-written this post three times because I’m not sure what to talk about. Because there is so much to talk about! Do I talk about my social anxiety disorder and how it affects me on a daily basis? Do I talk about the stigma I face for having a mental illness? Or do I talk about how it felt to talk to someone about having a mental illness for the first time?

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Opinion: Confessions of a manic depressive #timetotalk

Time to talk dayAfter hearing/reading a lot of negative things about people with mental health issues recently first I got angry, then I got writing. This is what I came up with:

My name is Eleanor and I am Bi-Polar/Manic Depressive/crazy. Choose whichever of these you wish, everyone comes to their own conclusion eventually but they all amount to pretty much the same thing, it just depends on how negative a spin you want to put on things I suppose. I also have a phobia of tinsel and used dishcloths. This is …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must let our values define our approach to mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk day“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” Kevin Spacey tells us, and it’s a bit like that with depression too. It’s so insidious precisely because it tries to convince you it isn’t really there, that these black thoughts and difficult days are all there is for you, and that this entirely your own fault.

This is why feeling about to talk about it at all, to be open, has such power: it lessens the isolation, fights your negative thoughts about yourself with positive ones from people who love you, and helps all of us live in a better, healthier society, because Mentally Interesting people have a hell of a lot to contribute. And while fighting stigma isn’t the only problem we face, it can be as hard as dealing with the mental illness itself.

So what can we as Lib Dems do?

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Opinion: I have never told my mother I have a mental illness #timetotalk

Time to talk day

I am writing this as I read the post on Time to Talk day by Caron . These are just my personal opinions and personal experiences and should be taken only as so.

I have suffered from Hypomania for what has been the best part of my adult life; I am 25 now. I probably had it when I was a child but my mother just put it down to being  “full of energy”. Friends have also told me that I probably have ADHD and maybe some form …

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It’s #timetotalk about mental health at Liberal Democrat Voice

Time to talk dayLiberal Democrat Voice is always “Our place to talk” but today, we are talking about mental health. Time to Change is having a national #timetotalk day. Why?

Thursday 6 February is the first ever Time to Talk Day: 24 hours in which to start conversations about mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is talking about it.

Sometimes it’s the little things we do that make a big difference - like having a chat over a cuppa, sending a text or inviting someone out. And on Time to Talk Day we’re encouraging people to do just that. In fact, we’re hoping to spark a million conversations, and we want your help to do that.

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“A wake-up call on mental illness”

Sarah Chisnall is a Scottish public affairs consultant and mental health campaigner. She’s also married to Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Mike Crockart.

On Sunday, she wrote a powerful piece for Scotland on Sunday talking about her experience of living with Bulimia and Depression and how she pledged to speak out to tackle the stigma attached to mental illness.

The stigma surrounding mental illness prevents us from speaking out to family, friends, let alone the wider world. I have always worried what friends might think and how it could affect my career or that of my husband, Mike Crockart, who is

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Today’s Call Clegg highlights: Mental health, Benefits Street, getting more women into politics and Rennard

Call Clegg took place today because Nick is heading off to Davos. He could have easily invented some reason to get out of it but you have to respect his courage in going ahead given the furore over the past week. We’re going to start with the most important thing he talked about and work back from that

Improving mental health care for young people

He was asked about whether it was surprising that young people’s mental health was suffering when they faced low wages and not being able to find affordable housing and about mental health provision itself.

He replied:

 I announced on Monday that we’re seeking to remedy,it’s actually almost a form of institutionalised cruelty, the way that if you turn 18, if you’re a child with mental health problems…you might be given good care, good help, develop important relationships with people who are giving them support and treatment in the children’s mental health system.  And then, the moment they have their 18th birthday all of that falls away, and they’re suddenly having to deal with other people in different institutions, travel to different hospitals or clinics.

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Opinion: Closing the gap

closing the gapYesterday was an important day for anyone concerned about the state of mental health care in this country. It was also an important day for me as not only did I find myself agreeing with Nick for the fourth time in a fortnight (scary but true) but I could applaud a coalition policy.

Just over a year ago I lost my younger sister Sarah, who was suffering from schizo affective disorder.  As a family we had grown up with a bi-polar father at a time when so few of us, or the wider population, understood the condition. With my sister we understood more, but were only too aware of how little others did. I haven’t written about Sarah yet as it is still too painful – that is a story for another day. But, I have always taken a particular interest in mental health and bringing mental health services up to the standard of the rest of the health service. Even for someone like me (who is not particularly afraid to challenge), my interaction with the services has been horrendously frustrating and myself and my family nearly always felt as if we were being totally ignored. Getting anyone to do anything was like constantly banging your head against a brick wall, exhausting, frustrating and painful.

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Norman Lamb writes… Mental Health: our priorities for essential change

closing the gapSupport for those with mental health problems has come a long way since 2010. Rectifying the profound injustice in the priority given to physical health over mental health has been one of my highest priorities as Health Minister – as I know that it was too for Paul Burstow. When at least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, making sure they get the support they need to live independent and fulfilled lives is essential in delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society.

But there remains a very long way to go. People who rely on our mental health services – patients and carers – continue to experience unacceptable waits for services, and huge inconsistencies in the quality of provision. Some parts of our health and care system don’t do nearly enough to enable those with mental health conditions to live within their community, properly supported.

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Norman Lamb writes… managing offenders with mental illness

It is a really disturbing fact that 1 in 4 members of the prison population has a severe mental illness. Addressing this is one of the big social reforms which has not yet happened.

Far too often these conditions are diagnosed for the first time in prison. In many cases, their mental illness will have been a significant factor contributing to their criminal behaviour. If these people had been properly diagnosed when they first came into contact with police, and they had been provided with appropriate support and therapy, their offending actions might have been averted.

Identifying offenders with mental …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Government should make New Year’s resolution to tackle mental health employment scandal

Mental health has rightly gone up the political agenda since the coalition came to power. Long neglected, mental health problems cost the UK in excess of £105 billion annually and affect one in four of the population.

Earlier this month saw publication of the most comprehensive picture of progress on mental health. The government’s Mental Health Dashboard brings together in one place mental health data from a wide range of sources for the first time. Its aim is to monitor the progress achieved in implementing the No Health Without Mental Health strategy.

My successor at the Department of Health, care …

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Another step forwards in achieving parity for mental health

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that mental health is the Cinderella service of the NHS but it’s essentially true. There is a real institutional bias against mental health. It loses out financially when budgets are tight for local commissioners and significant advances on choice and access for patients introduced by the Labour Government left out mental health.

In the time I have available to me as Care Minister, I am determined to do everything I can to combat this and the update of the Government’s Mandate – which sets out the Government’s priorities from the NHS – published yesterday, …

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New Lib Dem initiatives on mental health

Norman Lamb is no stranger to these pages writing about all aspects of his job as health minister. It’s been great to see how he’s done so much to improve mental health services and he acknowledges that there is a long way to go to get services to where they need to be.

It’s not just within government that Liberal Democrats are acting, though. I’ve become aware of two initiatives from around the country where we are trying to advance policy or campaign for better services. You may  know about more so please add them in the comments.

The first comes …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Parity for mental health: learning lessons from across the pond

The last few weeks have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of mental health. We had the very welcome announcement from Norman Lamb that the government is leading by example, with commitments from 13 departments to sign up to ‘Time to Change’. That was the good news. The bad came in the form of the thoughtless and stigmatising portrayal of mental illness in Halloween customs sold by ASDA and Tesco, companies that should have known better. The ugly could be found on the front page of The Sun with its irresponsible …

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LDVideo: Norman Lamb says he’s on a mission for better mental health care

Norman LambNorman Lamb has given an interview to the BBC about mental health provision after a joint BBC/Community Care magazine investigation found that 1700 mental health beds had been lost in recent years. To his credit, there was no spin from him, no excuses. He simply acknowledged that the current situation wasn’t good enough, explained what he’s already done in terms of better community care and changing the NHS Mandate to give mental health parity with physical health and finally said what he was hoping to achieve in the future.

He said:

I know that there are problems and I’m absolutely determined that we address them. We owe it to people who have mental health problems that we provide them with the best possible care that’s available to them. There are some great examples of care around the country but there are too many failures. It’s because there is institutional bias against mental health which has to end…

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World Mental Health Day #timetochange

time to changeThose of you who have read previous contributions from me to Lib Dem Voice will know that at the very top of my list of priorities as a health minister is to transform the care and support for people with mental health problems.  Every year, the Mental Health Foundation – one of Britain’s leading mental health research and policy charities – holds World Mental Health day, to raise awareness of different mental health conditions.  Mental health has always struggled to attract the same attention as physical health …

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A reply to Matt on welfare by Lib Dem ministers Norman Lamb and Steve Webb: “We believe in standing up for the vulnerable”

This week, Lib Dem Voice published a deeply personal account by one of our readers, Matt: I need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for me when Conservative ministers denigrate me. It was read by many in the party, including two Lib Dem ministers in the Coalition — Norman Lamb MP (Department of Health) and Steve Webb MP (Department for Work and Pensions) — who have co-authored the following response.

lamb and webb

When we read the article posted on Lib Dem Voice on Wednesday by Matt, setting out very personally the distressing and painful experiences he has faced over the past few years in trying to access the welfare and health support he needs, we felt it was important that we respond properly to what he had said.

As Liberal Democrats, we instinctively understand that divisive rhetoric is both unhelpful and inaccurate, and for both of these reasons we should all remain constantly vigilant in challenging those who use this type of language to denigrate any member of our society. We believe in standing up for the vulnerable and providing support to those who are facing personal difficulties in their lives.

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Opinion: I need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for me when Conservative ministers denigrate me

I want to share with you how I feel when Conservative government ministers talk about welfare claimants in disparaging terms. I hope that I can bring a bit of understanding about the problems people like me face.

Before I begin, I should give a trigger warning for rape, self harm and sexual abuse. The details are upsetting but I feel you need to know the whole story.

I was raped and abused as a child every single week for 12 years. On numerous occasions I would wake to find myself being raped and suffocated by my abuser, who was later imprisoned for …

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Farron asks Gove to put mental health on the school curriculum

Last Friday a new charity, providing online counselling to teenagers with mental health issues, launched in London. Mindfull, run by the team behind BeatBullying, built the service after feedback young people themselves. We’re talking about a third of our young people either self-harming or contemplating suicide because they are feeling so bad. The case stories in the report give some idea of how that feels:

Jessica was 14 when she started to feel very down. She didn’t tell anyone about the way she was feeling until she was 15, and even though she started to have suicidal thoughts it took

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Tackling Mental Health stigma and discrimination: the NHS 65 years on

65 years ago today, the foundations of our modern National Health Service were laid based on the recommendations of a Liberal, William Beveridge. The founding principle that our NHS should always be free at the point of use endures today. The NHS now treats around a million people every 36 hours, with 300 million GP appointments each year. It is a national institution of which we are rightly proud.

However, the National Health Service is far from perfect. Significant changes are needed to cope with the challenges faced by the fact that people are living longer, and are living with an …

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The most important thing going on in Parliament this week…

Forget the EU referendum faffery and PMQs. When people wake up in the morning, their first thoughts are unlikely to be anything to do with the internal wranglings within the Conservative Party or any  sort of parliamentary panto. They will be to do with their health or thir job or any other problems they or their family face.

However, at 11:30 or thereabouts today, MPs will talk about something that most people will find real and relevant. There’s a backbench debate on mental health. I doubt it will be as powerful and intense as the debate we had at Scottish Conference …

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My highlights of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

I’m a bit bleary eyed today. One conference is exhausting, two on successive weekends is positively foolhardy. Following that up with a trip to London for Federal Executive is craziness.

I spent the weekend in Dundee where Scottish Liberal Democrats held their main Conference. Over three days, there were no fewer than twelve policy debates, some of them incredibly powerful or controversial. Here are my highlights.

The Secret Courts debate

Yes, I’m biased as I proposed the motion rejecting the Government’s proposals, but the debate itself was very high quality. Liberal Youth co-chair Kavya Kaushik won the Russell Johnston award for the best …

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Opinion: Where do we now stand regarding mental health provision in the NHS?

nhs sign lrgMany people are clearly still very angry at, what they perceive to be, Liberal Democrats waving through Conservative plans to fragment and privatise the NHS – despite it not being in the Coalition Agreement – and believe that, within that, mental health treatment in the NHS will inevitably suffer.

I do not think that anybody who reads these pages will believe that the party can regain every vote which we have lost because of the NHS Bill.

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Opinion: Mental health provision in the NHS – follow-up

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleI intended the previous mental health article on this website to be my last but, having been amazed by the people sharing personal and moving experiences in the comments section, I felt compelled to add something more.

First, I wish to acknowledge that, while I have often felt that my world is crashing down around me during the last few months, my own problems pale into insignificance compared to those which have been shared on this website. It takes a remarkable amount of bravery to share these in a public forum – bravery which I doubt I would be capable of.

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Norman Lamb: another step forward on parity of esteem for mental health

From April 2014, for the first time, people who need mental health services will be able to choose where they receive their care.

In 2008, the Labour government gave patients the legal right to choose who provides their care when referred by a GP. Scandalously, however, that right was specifically denied to mental health service users – a clear, institutionalised bias against mental health services and service users who had to take what they are given, whether they like it or not.

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Opinion: Mental health provision in the NHS – share your experiences

After having written previous articles about delegate Sarah Yong’s motion on under provision in mental health, my own experiences with mental health, and the recent statements by Ed Miliband regarding Labour’s policy on mental health,  I want to add a final footnote to the series.

It is clear from comments on this website that Liberal

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